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Banks With Safety Deposit Boxes


Jan 20, 2024
Banks With Safety Deposit BoxesBanks With Safety Deposit Boxes

Banks With Safety Deposit Boxes

Fires, floods, storms, and tornadoes are all natural disasters that safety deposit boxes are meant to endure. Never keep a single copy of an important document in a safe deposit box. People who are hesitant to employ digital storage would benefit most from safe deposit boxes. Although having a co-lessor for your box is a good idea, consider who would be the best fit.

Safeguarding your valuables can be stressful. There are other factors to consider, including where to place them and how much you want to pay for their protection. Purchasing a home safe is one alternative. Another option is to rent a safe deposit box from your local banking institution. You may also hear them called safety deposit boxes.

Although deposit boxes are a secure method to store valuables, you should not put everything in them. Things that require rapid and easy access should be stored at home. Read on for advice on what you should and should not keep in your safe deposit box.

What Is a Safe Deposit Box?

A safe deposit box, commonly referred to as a safety deposit box, is a separately guarded container that is typically housed within a bigger safe or bank vault. Safe deposit boxes are commonly found in banks, post offices, and other institutions. Safe deposit boxes are used to protect valuable possessions such as gemstones, precious metals, currency, marketable securities, luxury goods, important documents (e.g., wills, property deeds, or birth certificates), or computer data from theft, fire, flood, tampering, or other threats. In the United States, neither banks nor the FDIC insures their contents. Individuals can acquire separate insurance for the safe deposit box to protect against theft, fire, flooding, or terrorist strikes.

Some hotels, resorts, and cruise ships provide safe deposit boxes or miniature safes to their guests for temporary usage during their stay. These facilities may be positioned behind the reception desk or securely anchored within private guest rooms to ensure privacy.

The contents of safe deposit boxes can be confiscated under the legal doctrine of abandoned property. They may also be searched and seized by court order through the issue of a search warrant.

Safe deposit boxes are considered a “legacy service” in the United States and worldwide, and many new bank offices do not install them. Bank branches were more prestigious in the twentieth century; in the twenty-first century, space has become more valuable as land values and rents have risen, and many banks regard the service as secondary to their core operations. Furthermore, despite the public perception of safe deposit boxes as being extremely secure, there is little incentive for banks to ensure this; there are no federal laws in the US governing the matter or rules that would require compensation to customers if property stored there is stolen or destroyed.

How Safe Deposit Boxes Work

A safe deposit box is a secure container, typically a metal box, that is kept in a financial institution’s vault. Account customers can rent these boxes, which are intended to store valuables and vital papers. To provide security, the box contains a dual lock system that requires two keys to unlock it.

Let’s look at a scenario. You inherited some unique coins from your grandfather and don’t feel comfortable storing them at your apartment. You are in the market for a safe deposit box! The first place to check is with your bank or credit union. Safe Deposit Boxes are housed in a safe vault and are typically limited in quantity. If there are any available, you can hire them for a year.

A Safe Deposit Box requires two keys to open: your key and one maintained by the institution. Keep your key in a secure location because you have the only copy. You can visit your box at any time during normal business hours, but the institution will require you to produce proof of identification before you can access your possessions.

Only you, the owner of the Safe Deposit Box, will know what’s inside. We shall specify below which goods are and are not safe to store in your box. Although your savings in an institution are insured, we do not recommend storing cash in a Safe Deposit Box because it is not federally insured.

Benefits of a Safe Deposit Box: Security for a Small Cost

Safe deposit boxes are an excellent solution for a variety of reasons. For starters, they are unquestionably safer than most people’s homes. So, whatever things you own, whether gold coins, family jewelry, or stock certificates, banks are considerably more difficult to break into and are located in secure places with alarms, video cameras, and high-security locks. The vaults containing safety deposit boxes are also fortified to withstand fire, floods, storms, tornadoes, and other natural disasters.

How much does all this security cost? Renting a safe deposit box can cost anything from $40 to $300 per year and above. The fee is determined by several criteria, including the size of the box you rent and the bank that keeps it.

However, just because you have a box does not imply you should store all of your belongings in it. Here are some pointers to help you determine what to keep in—and out of—a safe deposit box.

Five Things to Know About Safe Deposit Boxes, Home Safes, and Your Valuables

Your possessions change over time, as do the possibilities for protecting them. Here are a few options, including safe deposit boxes and home safes, as well as advice on how to evaluate each for your unique requirements.

1. Think about what should or should not be kept in a bank’s safe deposit box

Originals of vital papers, such as birth certificates, property deeds, car titles, and U.S. Savings Bonds that have not been transformed into electronic securities, are suitable for a safe deposit box. Other possible uses for the box include family heirlooms, precious collections, pictures or films of your home’s contents for insurance purposes, and irreplaceable photographs.

Be careful not to use your bank’s safe deposit box to keep anything you might need to access immediately or when the bank is not open. Passports and authentic “powers of attorney” that authorize people to transact business or make medical decisions on your behalf may be included. For advice on where to store your original will, consult with an attorney about what is necessary or suggested under state law.

2. You’re better off stashing your cash in a bank deposit account, like a savings account or certificate of deposit, than in a home safe or a safe deposit box.

Cash that’s not in a deposit account isn’t protected by FDIC insurance,” stated Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC’s Community Outreach Section. That’s because, by law, the FDIC only covers deposits in insured institutions, and only in the rare event that a bank collapses. A safe deposit box is not a deposit account.

Because it is a bank-provided storage space, the contents, such as cash, cheques, or other valuables, are not protected by FDIC deposit insurance if damaged or stolen. Furthermore, most financial organizations do not protect the contents in safe deposit boxes. If you wish to secure the valuables in your safe deposit box or house safe, speak with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance agent about adding coverage to these policies.

“And unlike money in a savings account, money in a home safe or safe deposit box cannot earn interest, so the purchasing power of your cash will decrease,” Reynolds went on to say.

Also, examine the terms of the safe deposit box rental agreement, as the bank may restrict what you can store in the box. Cash may be one of these limits.

3. A home safe isn’t a true replacement for a bank’s safe deposit box.

A home safe could be used to keep replacement valuables that you may require immediate access to, such as a passport. However, home safes aren’t as secure as safe deposit boxes. “A burglar could more easily break into your home and open the safe than get inside your safe deposit box at your bank,” Reynolds said.

4. No safe deposit box or home safe is completely protected from theft, fire, flood, or other loss or damage.

Consider taking safeguards, such as storing products in water-resistant, zippered plastic bags or other resealable plastic containers. In the event of loss or theft, do not maintain identifying information on or near your safe deposit box key, such as the box number or the name of the bank. Remember that FDIC insurance is limited to deposit accounts by law. Also, do not expect the bank to reimburse you for theft or damage to the contents of your safe deposit box. Again, you can ask your insurance agent about adding some coverage to your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

5. Be mindful of whom you allow to access your safe deposit box.

You can rent a safe deposit box with one or more people to whom you want to provide unfettered access. Keep in mind, however, that your bank will most likely not be liable for anything that persons you enable to enter the box remove without your permission.

What to Store in a Safe Deposit Box

Safe deposit boxes are ideal for storing valuable documents such as contracts and company paperwork, military discharge papers, physical stock, and bond certificates, as well as minor collectibles and family treasures. Keep in mind that the largest safe deposit boxes are typically only 10 inches by 10 inches and two feet deep. This allows plenty of space for precious photos and Grandma’s wedding band, but not for your antique doll collection.

Important items that will not require frequent access to your safe deposit box, such as:

  • Personal documents, such as original birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage licenses, and citizenship paperwork.
  • Copies—but not the sole copies—of wills and powers of attorney
  • Military records and discharge papers (e.g., DD214s).
  • School transcripts and diplomas.
  • sensitive documents that you don’t want roommates, children, relatives, and visitors to find.
  • The deed to your house and any automobile titles
  • Paper stock and bond certificates (though most are now issued electronically), including US savings bonds.
  • An inventory of your home’s contents, in case you need to file a claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Important company documents, records, and contracts.
  • Hard drives and flash drives containing backups and crucial data
  • Jewelry, collectibles, and family keepsakes with financial or sentimental value
  • Other documents or little items that are difficult or impossible to replace.

Even though safe deposit boxes are built to resist natural disasters, it’s a good idea to store anything that could be damaged by water in a waterproof container like a zippered plastic bag. This adds a layer of safety while also making it easier to arrange your safe deposit box. And, before you save those crucial papers and images, make electronic copies to keep on your computer or in the cloud. Just make sure your family understands how to access them.

Items You Shouldn’t Keep In a Safety Deposit Box

You can only access your safety deposit box during banking hours, so you won’t be able to use it on holidays or, in some situations, weekends. Keep stuff that you know you won’t need in an emergency. Passports, medical directives, original copies of wills and powers of attorney, and other documents that you may require at any time should be kept in a secure location at home, such as a fireproof home safe fastened to the floor or wall.

You should keep the following objects out of your safe deposit box.

  • Passports
  • Sole Copies of Important Documents
  • Uninsured Valuables
  • Cash
  • Anything Illegal

1. Passports

Even if you are not a frequent foreign traveler, you never know when you will need your passport for business, a sudden vacation, or to assist a relative or friend abroad.

2. Sole Copies of Important Documents

Only copies of living wills, advanced medical directives, and durable powers of attorney are worthless if they are kept in a safe deposit box that no one can access. Inform your loved ones of the preparations you have made and where they may find the documentation.

Your will, for example, is an important document that you should never keep only one copy in a safe deposit box. This is especially true if you have not chosen a cosigner for your box. If you die or become incompetent, your loved ones may have difficulty accessing your safe deposit box, which contains the only copy of your will.

Wills, living wills, medical directives, and powers of attorney should be kept in a secure location at home (such as a fireproof safe) and shared with a trusted relative or friend. Remember to give your medical proxy and the person who has your power of attorney copies of any relevant paperwork.

3. Uninsured Valuables

Even if valuables in a safe deposit box are secure, you should ensure that they are protected by your homeowner’s insurance policy or a special rider, just in case—some businesses specialize in insuring safe deposit box contents.

Keep in mind that while money in a federally insured bank or credit union is protected, goods in a safe deposit box are not. Tell your insurance company that the valuables will be stored in a safe deposit box. You may be able to get away with a lesser premium because things will be more secure than they would be at home.

4. Cash

The money you deposit in a federally insured bank or credit union is insured up to $250,000 per depositor, per bank, but the cash in your safe deposit box is not. You’d be much better off keeping your money in a savings, money market, or other sort of bank account that is insured. You may also be able to earn some income, which is not possible if your money is stored in a box.

5. Anything Illegal

Firearms may or may not be permitted, so check with your bank for clarification if this is important. Explosives, hazardous items, and illegal narcotics are strictly prohibited.

Are Things In a Safe Deposit Box Insured?

Because it is considered storage rather than an account, the bank does not insure anything in the box; nevertheless, you can protect the items you keep with private insurance. Cash that is not held in a bank account is not insured by the FDIC.

Does the IRS Know About Safe Deposit Boxes?

The IRS cannot access your safe deposit box at will. However, if the IRS issues a Notice of Levy or Seizure, the bank must freeze your box, preventing you from removing anything. You will subsequently be requested to open the box in front of an IRS representative.

Do Banks Know What You Keep in Your Safe Deposit Box?

The safe deposit box is a storage area that you rent from the bank. The contents are kept private, and the bank has no idea what you put in there.

What is the point of a safety deposit box?

A safe deposit box (or safety deposit box) is an individually protected container, typically a metal box, that is kept in the safe or vault of a federally insured bank or credit union. Safe deposit boxes are used to preserve precious items, crucial documents, and sentimental memories.

How much does a safe deposit box cost?

Extra Small (XS) Small (S) Medium (M) Large (L) Extra Large (XL)
size 3″ x 5″ x 21.5″ 5″ x 5″ x 21.5″ 3″ x 10″ x 21.5″ 5″ x 10″ x 21.5″ 10″ x 10″ x 21.5″
cost £240.00 a year
(or £20.00 monthly)
£270.00 a year
(or £22.50 monthly)
£360.00 a year
(or £30.00 monthly)
£525.00 a year
(or £43.75 monthly)
£750.00 a year
(or £62.50 monthly)

Is it safe to keep cash in a safety deposit box?

A safe deposit box is not a deposit account. Because it is bank-provided storage space, the contents, such as cash, cheques, or other valuables, are not protected by FDIC deposit insurance if damaged or stolen. Furthermore, financial organizations typically do not protect the contents of safe deposit boxes.

What happens to safety deposit boxes when bank fails?

If your bank collapses, you may be able to collect the contents of your safe deposit box. If another bank acquires your bank’s branches, you can contact them to inquire about accessing your safe deposit box. If the collapsed bank is not acquired by another bank, the FDIC will contact you regarding your safe deposit box.

What Cannot be stored in a safe deposit box?

  • COVID-19 vaccination card.
  • Emergency cash.
  • Letter of instruction (including funeral instructions)
  • Living will.
  • Original last will and testament.
  • Passport.
  • Power of attorney (financial and health)
  • Uninsured valuables.

What is a disadvantage of using a safe deposit box?

There are some items you may regret storing in your bank, which is closed on nights, weekends, and holidays. Access to your safe deposit box may be even more limited during an emergency, such as a natural disaster.

In Conclusion

Safe deposit boxes are storage containers that you may hire from a bank to preserve crucial documents and valuable goods that you do not wish to keep at home. The bank does not protect anything in safe deposit boxes, therefore anything valuable you place there should be separately insured. Cash should never be put in a safe deposit box because it is not FDIC-insured. You should also ensure that any papers you store there have copies stored elsewhere.


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